Creating the Conditions for Business and Personal Vitality PART 1
THE STATUS QUO
The status quo on reviewing the health of a business often looks like a medical diagnostic looking for the visible and measurable. We may look at numbers of clients, money in the bank, costs, turnover, engagement, then prescribe something to fix the“troubled” parts.
Examples of Challenges and Status Quo Responses
1 Problem: Costly Mistakes
Solution: Implement more procedures to stop people making mistakes
Beliefs: We need to control people and tell them what to do
Developing more procedures to “control” mistakes results in people feeling repressed and being forced into compliance, hence vitality declines. When people feel judged and are blamed for mistakes they feel minimised. This increases the fear of speaking up and hence we inadvertently increase a lack of engagement and cover ups.
Resistance emerges from a lack of safety and respect. In a controlling, low trust work environment the only way people have a sense of agency is to resist change efforts imposed upon them, and create safety through the comfort of the way things are. We then say we have a resistance to change problem, and create a strategy to overcome the resistance. We unintentionally create dependence, low vitality and resistance. The exact opposite of what we want to create.
2 Problem: Turnover & Lack of Engagement
Solution: Give people more benefits
Solution: Ask people for their ideas.
Beliefs: Management need to Please People and buy their loyalty
Employee benefits are only one part of building a culture with vitality. If people are restrained from contributing to the development of their work and the organisation, benefits are more like buying loyalty and have a minimum gain. Asking for ideas may have an increase in engagement, but if people are not allowed to implement their ideas, and are involved in paralysing time wasting meetings where decisions are NOT made, they become cynical and give up. The result is either an increase in absenteeism, presenteeism, or high turnover which are all the opposite of vitality.
3 Problem: Lack of Engagement
Solution: Hand over responsibility and make people more accountable
Beliefs: We Need to Be Hands Off, but, respect, trust and relationships are not important or nothing can be done about these intangible areas
This can be like an unconscious set up for people to fail. If we do not build trust and maintain good recipricol, non-judgemental feedback systems, people who are handed responsibility and then left to their own devices, may become stressed not knowing whether they are doing the right work. The managers become stressed because they do not trust their people even though they handed over responsibility. The trust gap creates alienation, stress and conflict.
PERPETUATING THE PROBLEM
These kinds of strategies are like giving an aspirin to someone who has a headache. If the person has a belief they should work “like a machine,” 18 hours a day, they will continue to have headaches and take aspirin. The aspirin does not “fix” the cause of the problem.
Emotionless Human Beings
If we review our invisible beliefs about the actions we choose, we will realise the actions attached to those beliefs generate stress. For example, we may unconsciously believe we are more are like a machine than a human being, without physical, emotional, psychological, relational, financial, and spiritual needs. We may also uncover a dependency belief about needing someone else to fix our problems, in this case, a doctor who prescribes aspirin.
When we reconnect with our humanity, we increase the options for fostering vitality. We may take responsibility for starting a new sleep pattern, pursue creative activities or spend time enriching relationships, all vital for whole person well-being. The more these activities are pursued the more we experience a sense of aliveness that compels us to keep doing the things that make us feel good. The consequence, being headache free, and surprise, surprise, it is likely we will find more creative solutions surface from a state of vitality and well being, than when working hard as an “emotionless machine”. We will not need the aspirin anymore.
Holistic Human Nature
This is “transformation”for well-being and vitality. The first “aspirin taking” scenario is a simplistic, dependency, orientated solution that perpetuates the problem. The second solution generates long-term, adaptive change.
From the Individual to the Organisation
“The Peckham Experiment” into Health Ecology conducted over 60 years ago, provides vital research into the conditions that create vitality. Dr Scott Williamson and Dr Innes Pearse designed an experiment to study how people created health and well-being, spanning a 15 year period with over 1000 people.
The central tenets to this study offer implications for vitality in health, wellbeing, creativity and productivity in business, community and family.
The keys to vitality:
· Safe, supportive, enabling environment
· Freedom to be spontaneous
· Non-judgemental feedback
· Supportive staff versus intrusive and manipulative staff
· Support during transitions
The results of this experiment on families were astounding.
Over a 15 year period there were:
· No marriage breakdowns
· No bullying and only one accident
· Low interest in competition
· High level collaboration and joint projects
· High skills acquisition
· Improved health and well being
· Increased creativity
What did the keys to the environment create?
Health, well being and vitality when people lived, worked, played and learnt together in a spontaneous, safe and trusting environment.
What was critical in the Peckham experiment was the ability to allow confusion and chaos to reign as people learnt how to self-organise and co-create high trust and autonomy to achieve well being for themselves and the collective.
GOOGLE implement skunk works for people to be creative, other companies like ATLASSIAN give people 20% of their time to do whatever they like within the business.
Some Business Owners and managers, say, that is all very well for GOOGLE or ATLASSIAN, they need to be creative, we can not give people high trust and autonomy in banking, or insurance, or retail. The conditions for human vitality in business are not dependent on what business we are in. Every group of people that co-exist and work together will thrive and generate vitality if allowed to co-create the conditions for vitality to emerge.
Our current state of disruption is a great opportunity to pioneer and experiment with the conditions that foster vitality. This is consistent with the Peckham experiment, whose results said initially they were in a state of chaos as they worked out the best conditions to thrive. We have mountains of research spanning almost a 100 year period from Peckham, to the 2016 FORTUNE 500 Great Place to Work studies, and many in between.
So what is stopping us?
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: Capacities to Develop
If you were to “Trust Your Senses” what would you do to co-create the conditions for vitality in your personal life and business today?